Following my previous blog on the offshore interests of the Scott/Buccleuch family, the Panama Papers have emerged. I look forward to interrogating the 2.6 terabytes of data once it is made available for public examination in early May.

Meanwhile, I thought I should publish information sent to me by the Chief Executive of Buccleuch Group on 16 March in response to my blog and coverage of the story by Commonspace and The National.

“In view of media reports and comment on regarding Pentland Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Buccleuch Estates Ltd., and the Stage 3 debate on the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill tomorrow, Buccleuch wishes to clarify the position of this company.

1. Pentland Ltd is a UK trading company which is subject to UK taxation. All tax that has been due from Pentland Ltd has been paid in the UK throughout the existence of the company.

2. All directors of Pentland Ltd are UK residents and UK taxpayers and are members of the Buccleuch family.

3. The ‘beneficial’ owners of Pentland have never been concealed and any land holdings owned by the company have been clearly identifiable as ‘Buccleuch’ land holdings.

4. Pentland was originally registered in the Cayman Islands in the 1970s, not for taxation purposes but to accommodate a range of international assets and investments.

5. Since the late 1990s, the assets of Pentland Ltd have been wound down and the company has traded exclusively in the UK. It is not permissible to re-register the company which currently owns a small property development in Canonbie, Dumfries and Galloway.”

This is a very interesting statement and reveals the sophistry at the heart of discussions about the use of secrecy jurisdictions.

Take the first sentence, for example.

Pentland Ltd. is a company registered at HSBC International Trustee Ltd., PO Box 484GT, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

That is a fact.

This cannot be spun as “Pentland Ltd is a UK trading company”

Two other observations are worth making.

The statement suggests that Pentland Ltd. has had an association with the Buccleuch family since the 1970s and point 4 explicitly claims that Pentland Ltd. was originally registered in the Cayman Islands in the 1970s. In fact, Pentland Ltd. was not incorporated until 1990 as evidenced by its incorporation certificate here. So what was going on between the 1970s and 1990?

There is also some confusion about the relationship between Peatland Ltd. and Buccleuch. In this media statement from 2009, it is stated that “Pentland Ltd is a company under the ownership of the Buccleuch Group” when in fact it did not become a wholly owned subsidiary until 2013. Indeed in 2002, Anderson Strathern had written to the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland in plain terms that “Pentland Ltd is registered in the Cayman Islands and is not part of the Buccleuch Group.” From the statement above, it would appear tat it has always been part of the Buccleuch Group.

Finally..

We know nothing more about Hayes One Ltd., Clifton House, 75 Fort Street, PO Box 1350, Grand Cayman, KY1-1108, Cayman Islands.

And we still do not know who is the beneficial owner of of Buccleuch Estates Ltd.and how this is structured.

14 Comments

  1. If anything was needed to put a bomb under the new SG when ‘further developing’ the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill , surely the Panama Papers (and a few more ‘Green Party’ MSPs) should do the job?

  2. I’m an SNP member and if the Greens cannot persuade the SG to vocally take action post the Panama papers exposure I’ll be switching parties and so will many more IMHO

    • I was SNP 1 and 2 last time around … have no problem going SNP 1 – with Green for the list vote next month …

  3. stewart Lambie

    This is a gift from above, perhaps the cloud. The fall out from this could be the start off proper changes in the transparency of land ownership in Scotland and the rest of the UK .We must not miss any chance to improve the outdated and scandalous systems, that allow the country to lose millions of pounds in revenue that could make such a difference .
    i would listen to any party that will stand up for proper sanctions against the agents and beneficial owners. if they cannot prove ownership let it belong to the state. I live in hope but fear this will make little difference money and power go hand in hand.
    We should follow Iceland’s example to bring about proper change.

  4. Landlords and false statements seem to go together.

  5. mary rose liverani

    Awesome. I hope but doubt that the SNP will take note of pending defections. They should be prepared for the upcoming hustings. Campaigners on the streets for the SNP are informing questioners that they have been ‘assured’ by party leaders that after the next election changes will go ahead and land reform created ‘bit by bit’. That’s classic power at work ‘staging’ to ensure nothing happens. A Danish chamber of commerce founded in the 17th century solidly blocked for 15 years urban reform that had already taken place throughout the rest of Scandinavia and ‘staging’ ‘bit by bit’ was its primary stratagem. Rationality and Power describes the subtlety of the process.

    MRL

  6. WILLIAM LAWRENCE

    Keep up the good work; without proper truth we are all helpless! “The Truth will set you Free” comes to mind.

  7. Stuart Wilshaw

    The Panama Papers must be like manna from heaven for you Andy; you are certainly going to be kept busy examining them.

    Another little change in the law that may be of interest is that it is now a requirement for a company to put on record all ‘Persons Having Significant Control.’ It was designed specifically to root out people hiding in multi-layered set-ups such as you so frequently encounter in your investigations.

    Keep up the good work, don’t let the buggers rest!

    • Stuart Wilshaw

      P.S. When they say, ‘Pentland Ltd is a UK trading company ,’ is that double speak for, ‘Pentland Ltd is a company trading in the UK.’ There is a subtle difference there.

  8. The SNP should be informed loud and clear that they can not take the people’s support for granted, as Labour and Lib-Dems did/do, and they should not be allowed to continually make “jam tomorrow” type promises on land reform and abolishing tax havens.

  9. Joyce Gilbert

    SNP must grasp the nettle. It’s ridiculous that we have large areas of land in Scotland registered in tax havens. Surely this is an obvious thing to tackle in land reform. What’s stopping them?

  10. So which estates /areas of land in Scotland are registered in the name of companies/organisations which are registered in tax havens?

  11. Remember to search out info on the Braulen Estate and the mysterious Mr Salleh